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Jörgen Gassilewski


from «Portarnas bilder» [«Images of the gates»] (Bonniers, Stockholm)

translated from Swedish by Robert Österbergh


Pane by pane of oxidized lead glass. The faces behind: scattered stratocumulus clouds.
Here, both of us are longing for a single pang of saltpetre on
the tip of the tongue, a wound that will never heal.

Peacocks are mating in the air. My quiet moment
by the chair. Head leaning against the chair. Heads.
Speaking in a friendly manner but one cannot see
what they are doing with their hands behind their backs.
Soldier ants with yellow, green and red abdomens struggling up an August slope
clad in lilies of the valley. Yes, I understand that.
That’s why. That’s how it must be.

Light yellow ice-cream granulated when the wet scoop
presses down.

Eyes’ painting over:
“Being dead I have a responsibility,” I dreamt he said.
Never a catheter in all of the colors of the rainbow.
The temples expand as he clenches his teeth.

Clay covers the freshwater clams. Tourists are crying
in dirty sneakers. They have lost their things.
The pits are visible in the morello cherries on cold evenings in August
when it’s been raining and the sun comes out over a low pressure front-line.

The smoke from the fireplace with a bad damper
pricks the nose. Babble and gossip. I touch
your collarbone, but don’t recognize it. Your forehead against
a limestone wall. Marks of pressure on the forehead: clotted color dripping,
remainders of plaster, reinforcement bars. You hold your breath. Breathe in. Dust.
A shining ball with bowels.
Films for auratic wonders.

Your enemies are those who take casual jobs.
The devotees of aniline of the 30s and 40s,
the unemployed. Buy plastic airplanes with rotating wings and rare
Japanese seaweed. You abate. The rose is in your mouth.
The tree is on the hilltop.
Gllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii glass bead game.

I want to talk to someone.
The Meissen porcelain figures.
A green grape with the peel split open.

That day, the life you have lived so far will be over.
The bread folds itself without resistance against your teeth
but it is unpleasant and sharp. You are waiting for thirst.
And for the movements. – In the window, those who are usually there:
a seagull, a streamer or maybe a neighbor hanging laundry to dry.
You give yourself instructions to perform a regularity.
To invent yourself.

Meat broth and drip-feed of blood.
Doesn’t reflect any light. The place of baptism of Olof Skötkonung.[1]
Point enveloped by light. Superficial blood-vessels.

One could see her cornflower blue cap across the whole playground.
The tongue yields to the concentrate. No connective tissue.


The waiting is abstract:
those tunnels in breaking waves that surfers like.
The escalator runs in the wrong direction. Every integrity is invaded.
After that you can begin from the beginning as a different person.
Nice manner, surprisingly mild.

It is a sharp thirst. The dogdays: slack clothes
and slack streamers. Brown sludge.

The signature from within the tip of the pen. Pointed at yourself.
A shaft in the dark spaces in between sunbeams.

The kumquat a mouthful. I sometimes actually forget
that we are really only waiting for death. In the middle
a hissing, smoking drill crown.
Feelings straight through. The liqueur in the chocolate.
The eye. Not wink. Straight in.

After the party, under a chair, right hand doesn’t work,
your sweater torn apart. Hymenoptera are speeding. Bone tissue. Sinews.
Leftover eggs: ”Brillo pad?”


The table. I. Have disappeared. Voices toward endings.
Drainage. From here to there. The soprano cracks
in the midst of the queen’s aria. A gorge. When we had cleaned up,
what we were going to save happened to be brought along. Wind names. Gneiss
remains. On my side. Too long an etching bath.
Sparks from the bicycle dynamo, my hair follicles…
moments to remember.

Hands and fingers, mountains of roses. But
not here, not now. Here: am driving pegs of aluminium into loose skin. Deep
sky and the sun as a marble at the bottom.
After the cloudburst the roots of the grass are laid bare.
Blades of grass are pressed down. Grass sticks to the top of the foot.
You take a long shower.

The routine duties are impenetrable labyrinths.
Constellations of sweaters. The incision is so subtle
that you have to fold back the skin to see it.
Sun, rubbish and dust. I don’t care.
We are on our way. One may call it a holiday.
The brain in the nut.

The piece of gneiss. Interlude by a young talent. To feel it.

You swallow the air cinematographically with your U-shaped tongue;
as obscene as watching the sound post vibrate through the f-hole of
a violin. Thus. That’s who I am. Simple things. Nothing more.
Burdens discarded.

Now I let a record long
string of saliva dangle like the clapper of Big Ben.
Shadow. Light. Faint voices. Only reverberation.
Headache. Confused. No longer answers to one’s Christian name.

Light mealy wood. Weathervane and maybe the remnants of experimental risings
with commercial giant bockwurst in polyester. The afternoon light
is yellow. Yellow also the dog’s ear on
the magazine that has disappeared. Death stutters. The fog doesn’t
move. A flask of cocoa. A hairdo. Stitches.
I have only been drinking water. Am now peeing white pee.

[1]  Olof Skötkonung (ca. 980-1022) is said to be the first Christian king of Sweden. He was baptized in Husaby by Kinnekulle, and established the first episcopate in the town of Skara.

Jörgen Gassilewski, photo by Caroline Andersson

Jörgen Gassilewski
photo by Caroline Andersson

Jörgen Gassilewski was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1961. His first collection of poems, Du [You], came out in 1987 and his ninth collection, Kärleksdikter [Love Poems], this spring. He has been on the editorial board of OEI, a Swedish magazine for experimental writing, since its inception in 1999. In 2006 he published the documentary novel Göteborgshändelserna [The Gothenburg events], which deals with the EU summit and the visit of George W. Bush to Gothenburg in 2001, a grim episode in modern Swedish history when the police opened fire on demonstrators for the first time in seventy years

Robert Österbergh

Robert Österbergh

Robert Österbergh is a PhD student in the English department at Uppsala University, Sweden, working on contemporary American lyric poetry and critical theory. He was a visiting graduate student at UC Berkeley 2006-2008

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